Archive for June 4th, 2010

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This is a great resource for any pastor to have, concerning the Open Theism debate.  Prior to reading this book, I have heard many good things about this work. I want to give some of my personal highlights in reading this book.

For readers who are new to the Open Theism controversy, the work is a good introduction from an orthodox, Evangelical perspective.  Readers might ask what is so important about the controversy, in which Ware’s introductory chapter illustrate the implication of the idea that God does not know the future.  Having develop the importance of the subject, Ware devotes about thirty pages of part one in the book giving a fair description of Open Theism’s theology.  I have also enjoyed reading the footnotes in this section, as a way of knowing what the primary sources for further studies are.

Since no one approach any theological disagreement in a vacuum, I was glad to see Ware treat the topic of Open Theism in the larger context of the discussion of providence, and gave a point of reference here of the relationship of Open Theism to Classical Arminianism, Middle Knowledge and Calvinism.  It was quite insightful, especially seeing the interaction of various thoughts that Open theists has, in reaching their conclusion of what Ware called the “perceived benefits of Open theism”, which was the title of chapter three in Ware’s book.  Readers will be able to see the concerns that drive Open theists to their conclusion, and can see Open advocates in a more human light than simple demonizing of it’s proponents.

The second portion of the book is devoted to refuting Open Theism, and has three chapters.  The first chapter here is an assessment of the positive biblical case that Open Theists have provided in denying God’s exhaustive foreknowledge.  Ware discusses a bit about the hermeneutical issue of when the text seem to be “straight-forward”, for the Open Theist camp.  As a constructive criticism of Ware, I wished he could have worked out this section more concerning the hermeneutics of Open Theism, seeing that the debate is hermeneutical in nature.  Despite what I think is a shortcoming in this chapter, nevertheless this chapter is valuable since it allows the reader to know what the popular texts the Open theists like to use for their position.

If the previous chapter was Ware’s negative arguments, the next chapter is his positive argument for God’s exhaustive foreknowledge.  Here, Ware provides what is probably the most verses out of all his chapters.  The bulk of this chapter is made of Ware’s discussion on the Isaiah texts concerning God’s foreknowledge, and this alone establish a strong case.  Ware also adds to this chapter, further discussion of other verses as well, which teach on divine foreknowledge.  As an instance where “doing theology” is not just for head knowledge, I was at awe in this chapter of how in many instances Scripture teaches that the true living God of the Bible is different from other gods in that He can know the future before it happens.  Studying the greatness of the characteristic of the true God, I can not help but to praise God and worship Him!

In the last portion of the book, Ware explores the real-life implication of open theism.  I appreciate this section, knowing that all of theology has ramification for Christian living, it is thus an insightful method of criticism by exploring what does any particularly theology mean, in real life.  The consequences of open theism is not as pleasant as the reader might think.

Ware explores the denial of exhaustive Divine foreknowledge as it relates to Christian prayer.  In essence, prayer becomes meaningless if the God of Open Theism was real.  There are materials here that I have to think over more carefully concerning Ware’s argument, in particular I wonder if it follows that God has to know the future in order for Him to hear our prayers now.

I was more fascinated with the next chapter’s discussion of how the theology of Open Theism weakens one’s basis to trust in the guidance of a God who does not know the future.  Indeed, this chapter is related to the chapter on prayer, for if the God of Open Theism can not be trusted for guidance, why should one communicate through prayer to this God for guidance?

The last chapter in this section explores Open Theism as it relates to suffering in the Christian life.  Here was my favorite chapter of the book.  Gregory Boyd has discussed an incident in which he was led to deny God’s exhaustive foreknowledge and providence when a divorced woman came up to him as a pastor.  It seems that denying God’s exhaustive foreknowledge is an easy escape to “vindicate” God from the problem of evil, suffering and despair, but as Ware illustrates, without the providential God as revealed in the Scriptures, there really is no hope in the midst of suffering.  In particular, I enjoyed Ware’s discussion of Romans 8 in this chapter. In review of the book at large, I would definitely recommend this work to every pastor, to be equipped in handling Open Theism.  I would also recommend this work to anyone who struggles through this divisive issue, and wants an informed and balance response.

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